I wrote my first book on a Petite Typewriter. It was about a puppy and I was 9. When I say ‘book’, I mean about half a page. It joined the ranks of all the other unfinished literary greats that could have been. The world will never know how Pippy the Puppy will cope with the loss of his cat-friend, Puss. Perhaps if I’d have kept the unfinished manuscript, it would have got concluded, but it probably got made into a paper plane and fired out of the window. Had I had a word processor or even a computer, of course, my literary career might not have been so tragically short. So I’m not so sad to report the following:
Joining other discarded technologies of late, including the Flip video camera, Kodachrome, and the humble floppy disk is the typewriter, which will no longer be produced anywhere in the world.
The last company on earth to produce the typewriter — Godrej and Boyce — has shut down its production plant in Mumbai, India, according to reports that, fittingly, are making the rounds via the Internet.
The company’s general manager, Milind Dukle, told India’s Business Standard newspaper: “We are not getting many orders now.”
The announcement, if true, ends a long run for the device, which was once a mainstay of office life. A prototype of the typewriter was introduced in 1714 by Henry Mill, but the first mass-produced typewriter came in 1868 when Christopher Latham Sholes, a printer-publisher from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, patented the device.
The typewriter hit its peak of production in the 1950s when Smith-Corona sold 12 million of the machines in the last quarter of 1953. But, thanks to the encroachment of the personal computer, only about 400,000 typewriters had been sold annually by 2009.
Though most of the world had abandoned the use of typewriters of late, India proved to be the one of the last bastions of use for the technology until recently. Another niche market for typewriters is more fanciful: Despite their lack of functionality, typewriters are being fetishized, oddly enough, by young hipsters, who are drawn by the nostalgia and romantic image attached to the now-bygone technology.